Hydrogen can be used as fuel in a fuel cell to generate electricity and/or in a burner to produce heat with no carbon emissions. However, pure hydrogen is rarely found in nature and is generally produced from other sources such as water and/or methane. Albeit, there are further other untapped resources that can be used to produce clean hydrogen. Biowaste is one of these resources, for example, sugar waste from ethanol production. Energy efficiency plays a significant role in determining if hydrogen production from such feedstocks is economically viable. Aqueous phase reforming refers to when biomass and water are mixed and used as feedstock for the production of hydrogen and/or other chemicals. Two main advantages of this process are high energy efficiency of ∼81% (normal steam methane reforming has an efficiency of ∼60%) and rather a low reaction temperature (200–250 °C). The catalysts used in this process, however, are typically composed of precious metals such as platinum and they are prone to deactivation by carbon deposit (a.k.a. coking).
In this paper, Arash and his team describe the development of a bimetallic catalyst that reduces the use of platinum, while increasing the selectivity in favour of hydrogen production and exhibiting higher resistance to coking. The as-developed catalyst reduces carbon conversion to CO2 and promotes the by-production of useful liquid chemicals like ethylene glycol.
Minkyeong Kim, Arash Badakhsh, Shedrack G. Akpe, Yoondo Kim, Ki-Jung Nam, Yongmin Kim, Hyangsoo Jeong, Suk Woo Nam, Hyung Chul Ham, Sun Hee Choi, Hyuntae Sohn. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 2023.